Durkan Digest: Adding more testing capacity in Seattle to better serve all residents

SEATTLE – For the past several months, our region has been facing several crises unlike anything we have ever seen before. As our City works to respond to continued calls to reimagine policing and community safety and invest in true community health and opportunity, we must remember that we are still in the middle of an unprecedented global public health crisis.

This week, building on our citywide testing launch in June, Seattle Fire Chief Scoggins and I announced the launch of a third citywide testing site: a walk-up location at Rainier Beach High School in South Seattle. We’ve seen as these crises have unfolded that our communities of color have been significantly and disproportionately impacted.

Rainier Beach has one of the highest density BIPOC communities in Seattle, and this test site will increase testing capacity tenfold by up to 4,000 tests per week in South Seattle. My office is also currently planning to launch a fourth site that will serve the Southwest Seattle community.

In addition to physical distancing, face coverings, and good hygiene, easy and accessible testing is a critical to saving lives. Our existing testing sites are testing thousands of individuals each day, and have tested more than 80,000 people since opening in June. Our two sites are 15% of the testing capacity statewide, and as FYI Guy from the Seattle Times reported this week, nine of the top ten areas with the highest rates of testing are all within Seattle city limits.

Under the leadership of Chief Scoggins, we have pioneered innovative testing programs that have been replicated across the state and country. In the initial days of the crisis, we created a site to test first responders exposed to COVID-19 and deployed our firefighters to test seniors and workers at long-term care facilities, where the virus had spread rapidly due to the lack of testing.

Testing at these City of Seattle sites is free, so if are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a family member or individual with COVID-19, please visit www.seattle.gov/mayor/covid-19/covid-19-testing to get tested.

We’re living in an uncertain time. This virus isn’t taking the summer off, and neither can we. We must all recommit to the recommendations issued by the governor, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the Washington Department of Health to help slow down this virus and limit its spread among our most vulnerable communities. Without a vaccine, our behavior and testing are the most important factors to limiting COVID-19.

I know these times are really tough for individuals, families, and small businesses in Seattle. As we move forward, I will continue to do everything possible to get the region the resources we need to get through this pandemic.

As always, please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.

Stay safe and healthy!

Mayor Durkan works to stop federal forces in Seattle Last week, Mayor Durkan expressed significant concerns regarding the deployment of an undetermined number of federal forces to Washington state, without the consultation or consent of state and local officials. On Tuesday, Mayor Durkan received confirmation that the Department of Homeland Security’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit has demobilized and left the Seattle area.

On Friday, Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes delivered a letter to US Attorney Brian Moran, the US Department of Justice, and the US Department of Homeland Security seeking clarification on the intended scope of their potential actions in Seattle. Mayor Durkan issued the following statement in response to this news:

“The president’s actions to target and ‘dominate’ Democratic cities through the use of federal forces is chilling. It has increased violence in Portland, Seattle, and other cities across the country, which was what the president intended. Policing decisions in Seattle should be made by Chief Best – not Donald Trump, and we can rest assured that they will be,” Durkan said. “We will continue to heed this moment in history and to work with the community to make systemic and generational changes to make Seattle more just.”

To read the full letter, go to

https://news.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/
FederalInterventionLetter.pdf

Mayor vetoes council’s irresponsible plan to deplete emergency and rainy day funds With upcoming congressional action and revenue forecasts impacting the City of Seattle’s 2020 and 2021 budget, Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed City Council’s plan to deplete the City’s emergency fund and rainy day fund. In the last two budgets, Mayor Durkan has worked to build our reserves for economic downturns and emergencies. The City entered the COVID-19 pandemic with total general fund reserves of $127.5 million.

Because of our current economic crisis, $29 million of this was needed to close the approximate $300 million hole created in this year’s 2020 budget. However, the Council has proposed spending 90% of the reserves (an additional $86 million) on new spending, and the remaining 10% (approximately $13 million) in other new spending in the upcoming weeks.

In her letter, Mayor Durkan lays out her concerns about spending down the City’s entire emergency fund without guaranteed means for replacing it. Her letter concludes:

In plain terms, now is not the time to spend nearly all of our emergency funds. Seattle needs a cushion to make it through the next 18 months, and avoid complete austerity budgets. Even without new, unexpected emergencies, we are facing unprecedented financial challenges. Council may be willing to risk the entire cushion we need. I am not. Council may be certain that the month ahead will be emergency free. I am not. Council may be certain that we will recover from the current crisis enough to fill a $300 million budget hole and collect $200 million in new taxes on top of that. I am not. The facts simply say otherwise.

SPD launches investigation into arson, van containing explosives recovered during weekend protests in Seattle Editor’s note: This item was taken from

https://spdblotter.seattle.gov/2020/07/29/detectives-serve-search-
warrant-recover-items-used-in-weekend-demonstration/

On Saturday, July 25, there was a large demonstration that took place on Capitol Hill. Individuals among the crowd set several trailers at a construction site on fire, and damaged numerous cars in the parking lot at 12th Avenue and Alder Street. Damage to several businesses occurred as the crowd moved north toward the East Precinct.

At approximately 4:25 p.m., officers observed a van following the protestors as they marched northbound on 12th Avenue. The van then stopped outside of the East Precinct. The van was abandoned in the street, facing northbound, in the southbound lane. At about the same time explosions occurred outside the precinct. Individuals in the crowd threw explosives at officers. One explosion occurred along the north wall of the precinct (on Pine Street), which blew a hole in the wall of the building.

A witness reported to Seattle Police that the same van was observed earlier in the day on Broadway with the rear doors open and people standing around it. The witness reported observing what appeared to be improvised shields, gas masks, baseball bats, and a large assortment of pyrotechnic explosives inside the van.

Arson/bomb detectives responded to the East Precinct immediately following the explosions. Because of where the vehicle was parked, and how it was abandoned, detectives were concerned the vehicle could contain additional explosives that might detonate. Once it was determined to be safe, the van was impounded.

Detectives applied for and obtained a search warrant and search the van. Detectives located firework pyrotechnics, bear mace, improvised spike strips, and nails. In addition, detectives also located gas masks, shin guards/helmets and other body armor, homemade shields, and other items. These are just a few of the items found during the search.

This remains an active and on-going investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Seattle Police Violent Crimes tip line at (206) 233-5000.

Mayor hosts virtual town halls in North, West, and South and Central Seattle To ensure that City of Seattle leaders are hearing from community even during this unprecedented global public health crisis, this week Mayor Durkan hosted three virtual “Safe and Healthy Communities” town halls to hear from residents from all across Seattle about their priorities for community safety, police reform, and the COVID-19 response in our City. Mayor Durkan was joined by department directors from the Department of Neighborhoods, the Human Services Department, and Seattle/King County Public Health, as well as Chiefs from the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle Police Department.

You can watch the videos from North Seattle, South and Central Seattle, and West Seattle town halls on Seattle Channel.

Weekend read: NPR: “Seattle Mayor Says Federal Deployments Are Part of a Darker Political Goal” For this week’s Weekend Read, we encourage you to read NPR’s interview with Mayor Durkan, discussing the deployment of federal troops in cities across the country.

Editor’s note: The following is taken from

www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-
protests-for-racial-justice/2020/07/30/897076407/
seattle-mayor-believes-federal-deployments-
are-part-of-a-darker-political-goal

by Christianna Silva:

As federal law enforcement agents descend onto cities in what the Trump administration describes as an effort to quell gun violence, Seattle’s Democratic mayor, Jenny Durkan, says it “looks like a dry run for martial law” that has the potential to suppress voting rights in the country.

“It is unprecedented for federal authorities to take this level of approach for local jurisdictions and cities and surge federal resources in them to take over public safety duties like arresting people and policing protesters,” Durkan said in an interview on Wednesday.

The deployments are part of Operation Legend, a program named after LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy killed last month in Kansas City. It is intended to quell gun violence and help solve murders in cities across the country. Federal agents have been deployed to multiple cities under the program, including Chicago, Albuquerque, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and Seattle.

Durkan said that if agents were placed in cities where there are already heightened threats to voting rights, then she is “very concerned about what it could do to suppress the vote in America.”

“The places that they are sending these federal agents are primarily in places where there are significant protests against police violence and for racial equity,” Durkan said. “And it doesn’t take much of a leap to also use those agents to say you’re protecting the polls, but have federal agents in and around polling places to fight against fraud when really it’s suppression.”

Durkan said she told the Department of Homeland Security she did not want federal agents sent into her city, but despite that, forces were deployed and put on standby. She said they’ve since left, but she and other mayors feel the federal deployments could be part of a darker political goal.

“We have seen, and I’ve talked to mayors across the country, the same thing when the president actually tweets, and it’s not my words saying he’s targeting cities run by Democrats, he’s openly admitted it and tweeted about it,” Durkan said. “And I think that that is really a chilling prospect that a president of the United States would use federal resources for political purposes.”

Some mayors have indicated some support for the move: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the deployment of federal agents is “a welcome contribution,” as long as agents don’t meddle with the largely peaceful protests in his city.

But many mayors, including Durkan, have come out forcefully against the operation. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the operation “tyranny” and insisted “we are not having it in Chicago.” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he is “extremely concerned that President Trump is looking for opportunities to create more political division in cities across the nation,” adding that “federal agents are not welcome here for that purpose.”

Courtesy of the City of Seattle

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